Jack in the Box is looking to open more than 70 restaurants across South Louisiana over the next several years — including its first locations in New Orleans and Lafayette.
The San Diego-based fast food chain has had a significant presence in Baton Rouge since 2000, and has 16 locations in the market, including restaurants in Gonzales and Walker. But the company has ambitious plans to go from just over 2,200 locations to 6,000 locations.
As part of that plan, Jack in the Box is reaching out to existing franchisees and new operators to backfill markets such as Baton Rouge and use those areas as a springboard into areas including New Orleans and Lafayette, said Van Ingram, vice president of franchise recruitment.
“We want to go into the places where people have the highest propensity to go to a Jack in the Box,” he said.
It will take more than a year before the first new Jack in the Boxes open, Ingram said. The zoning, permitting and construction phase takes 15 to 24 months.
Jack in the Box estimates it can open more than 1,500 restaurants in its existing footprint, Ingram said. This includes about 50 locations in the New Orleans metro area, between 10 and 14 in Acadiana and another eight in Baton Rouge. Each restaurant will have between 35 and 55 employees.
“We’re looking a lot at the I-10 corridor, because that drives so much traffic,” Ingram said.
The chain has identified Baker, Denham Springs, Plaquemine, Port Allen, Prairieville and Zachary as sites for more Baton Rouge metro restaurants.
Jack in the Box plans on ramping up to 4% annual restaurant growth by 2025, according to QSR, a restaurant industry publication. That’s a big jump in construction for the chain, which added an average of 21 restaurants a year for the past decade, or a growth rate of under 1%. In contrast over that period, Jack in the Box’s competitors (McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, Sonic) grew by an average of 2% annually.
As part of an effort to bring in new franchise owners, Jack in the Box is going toward a tiered royalty program. If a franchisee signs up to open three restaurants, they will get a break on the royalty rate, which is traditionally 5% of sales. The franchisee will pay a 1% rate the first year they are open, a 2% rate the second year, and so on until year 5. With the average Jack in the Box posting $1.8 million in annual sales, Ingram said the break comes to $180,000 per restaurant.
The chain is also looking at smaller restaurants, more focused on drive-through customers and pickups from online orders, either made through the Jack in the Box app or from third party delivery services, such as Waitr, DoorDash or Uber Eats.
Ingram said, “85% to 95% of our sales go through the drive through, so we want to maximize that.”